Login | September 20, 2019

Kudos to Michigan

PETE GLADDEN
Pete’s World

Published: September 9, 2019

I’m always telling people that you don’t have to go far from home to really experience some exotic vacations and adventures. Well, this advice couldn’t be more pertinent when it comes to the outdooring scene offered by our neighbor to the northwest - Michigan.

Now before you get all Buckeye crazy and start slinging a host of derogatory comments my way, try to find it in your heart to approach this column with an open mind…and with a grand sense of adventure.

Because once you get past all that silly college rivalry stuff there’s just a ton of reasons to love Michigan.

Now I’m not sure whether it’s been happenstance or serendipity, but I’ve been doing a whole lot of traveling through the Wolverine State this summer, and despite the fact that I’ve been up and down Michigan countless times over the years, I continue to be blown away at all new things I’m still discovering up there. We’re talking cycling, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, and skiing, to name but a few. It’s just crazy.

So I’d like to offer up just a small sample recreational opportunities out of the plethora of potential options - all lying just one state away.

Cycling

Now I’m not just talking about mountain biking in Michigan. I’m talking about biking with capital B. Yup, all modes of cycling own a slice of the Michigan pie. For instance, there’s so many thousands of miles of gravel roadway in Michigan that cyclocross bikes are as much a way of life up there as road bikes are to us down here. And speaking of a way of life, Michigan is also a leader in the winter snow biking scene. That’s right, fat-tire bikes are a staple of upstate Michigan’s cycling world, especially in the UP (Upper Peninsula), where they can get 10-18 feet of snow throughout a winter season - seriously. Heck, they groom their snow bike tracks just like they groom their cross country ski tracks.

Finally, throw in the gazillions of mountain bike trails and all the pristine asphalt roads for road cycling and suddenly the place seems like bicycling’s “velo mecca” east of the Mississippi.

Backpacking

One of my favorite backpacking/hiking trails is Michigan’s Lakeshore Trail, located in the UP along Lake Superior’s south shore. It’s 42 miles of breathtaking scenery, and I like this puppy so much that I’ve done it three times with a fourth not out of the question.

But that’s just the beginning with respect to Michigan’s hiking and backpacking offerings. There’s the North Country Trail - traversing seven states - of which Michigan owns more trail mileage than any of the other six states. It runs south to north through both Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas.

And at the top of my backpacking bucket list is Michigan’s Isle Royal National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the United States because it takes a float plane or a four-six-hour boat ride into the middle of Lake Superior to get there. It’s a primitive wilderness complete with wolf, moose, northern lights and the wild and moody Lake Superior. I’ll definitely make it there one of these days.

And as far as Michigan day-hiking goes, shoot, you can find a legion of books on that subject.

Cross Country Skiing

Believe it or not, Michigan’s home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, in addition to some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions in the US. So don’t for a minute think those western states have a stranglehold on this sport. As a matter of fact the Wolverine State’s rolling terrain and more than ample snowfall make available over 3,000 miles of ski trails - much groomed for both classic and skate style skiing.

For a detailed list of Michigans cross-country ski venues go to: http://www.skimichigan.com/nordic.html

Canoeing & Kayaking

Again, the opportunities are endless. Heck, in this case we’re talking about 3,000-plus miles in water trails. And that’s understandable when you take think about all the Great Lakes water surrounding Michigan, in addition to the inland lakes, the rivers, and the streams. This place is a paddler’s utopia. For more information go to: http://www.skimichigan.com/nordic.html

Yea, I might be a home-grown Ohio boy, but I have to admit that our neighbor to the northwest doesn’t disappoint when it comes to outdoor recreation - Michigan’s most definitely a serious player in the vacation game.


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